I was first introduced to Chris Lilley sometime during high school. We didn’t meet face to face, but that’s when I watched Lilley’s Summer Heights High. Maybe it was because I was in high school or that I didn’t care for television as much as I do now, but I wasn’t hooked. Parts were enjoyable, (the Jonah segments) while others bored me (I’m probably the only one who couldn’t stand Ja’mie). Since I wasn’t a fan of every character it was easy to stop watching. If I had to guess, my interest lasted through four or five episodes. I just didn’t love it.
Luckily patience is a virtue of mine. Seven years after dumping Chris Lilley we ended up together. As with most relationships, ours began through a mutual friend. A few months back an old friend (let’s call her “Callie”) was in town and wanted to catch up. We grabbed lunch on Venice beach and chatted for over four hours. You know. The “what have you been up to”, “can you believe what THEY’RE up to”, and frankly, some pretty deep stuff for 3 PM on a weekday. But among our festive chatter was the surprise that we both adored HBO’s new Silicon Valley. After swapping some hilarious Erlich and Jared quotes, Callie asks me if I’ve ever watched Angry Boys. I had never heard of it, but informed her of my lukewarm feelings about Chris Lilley’s previous shows. She urged me to give it a chance, and on a sunny Cali day, good vibes all around, with an old friend by my side, I said “sure, why the hell not?”.
Angry Boys depicts the lives of young men in our society from all different backgrounds. Out of the main cast, Lilley portrays most of the main characters. Where Summer Heights High fell flat, this new show succeeded. There wasn’t one Lilley persona that I wasn’t infatuated with. All six were a joy to behold.
Daniel and Nathan Sims are twin teenage brothers who live in rural Australia with their mum and step dad. Nathan is deaf while Daniel is the out spoken, potty mouthed opposite. Although Nathan is no saint himself. He has a penchant for middle fingering and having his testicles out in family photos. The story revolves mainly around these two and a party Daniel wants to throw for his brother before he goes to deaf school. I wasn’t even aware of such a thing as deaf school.
Ruth ‘Gran’ Sims is Daniel and Nathan’s grandmother. She works at a juvenille detention center for young boys as a correction officer. Her hobbies include karaoke, keeping up with a massive amount of guinea pigs, and pulling pranks. Gran legitimately cares for the boys in the camp and is one of the more touching characters on the show. Wonderfully played by Lilley, a testament to his ability to play such diverse characters.
S.Mouse may be the most ridiculous person I’ve ever seen. Lilley doesn’t hold back, with a great deal of black face and the overuse of the word “nigga”. S.Mouse was one of the biggest rap artists on the planet after his hit “Slap My Elbow”, but after some run ins with the law he’s been put on house arrest. What transpires is nothing short of priceless. He reminds me of more than a few people I went to high school with. If you don’t watch the show, at least Youtube the interactions between S.Mouse and his dad. So, so funny.
Jen Okazaki is, without a doubt, the worst mother in the world. She’s the mom of Tim Okazaki, the young, (allegedly) gay skateboard phenom. Along with being his mother, she’s his manager as well. Not only does Lilley play up the stereotype with Asian women, but also overbearing parents who attribute their children’s success to themselves. She has some of the funniest lines in the show, but is by far the most unlikeable. And, I hope, most unrealistic.
Blake Oakfield. The man, the myth, the legend. Blake’s a retired professional surfer. He’s also the leader of the Mucka Mad Boys, the local surf gang. Yes, it’s as humorous as it sounds. By far my favorite character on the show. During a gang fight he, unfortunately, had his testicles shot off (he’s able to withstand many nut shots), he starts a “Fat Kids Surf Camp”, and has a super hot wife (plus some cute kids). The definition of living the dream.
What separates the show from other laugh out loud comedies is the humanity Lilley gives each character (besides Jen. She’s just awful). Gran can be tough, and even cross the line at times, but she has so much love for the young men under her supervision. And it’s beautiful to see the gratitude they give right back. Blake gets into a bunch of trouble with rival surf gangs, but he loves his Mucka Mad Boys and he’ll do whatever it takes to show his family he loves them. Daniel, arguably the biggest prick of them all, reveals how much his brother means to him when all is said and done. It might be kind of “gay” (his words, not mine), but he admits how much he’ll miss his closest friend. Hell, even S.Mouse isn’t so bad. He knows what he was meant to do in life and he’s determined to see it through. For all the grief he gives his dad, their last scene in the finale had goosebumps coming out of the wood works. S.Mouse, you’re a good guy, brother.
Finding shows that incorporate comedy and, not drama, but heartfelt moments, are so rare. Scrubs is the gold standard for that type of television, Derek from Ricky Gervais was a pleasant surprise, and now we can add Angry Boys to the list. Like many surprises, this one was most unexpected. So thank you Callie, thank you Chris Lilley, and thank you Angry Boys. Good moods are hard to come by these days. Tears of joy even harder.